Merger plan for Belmont

Local Government Minister Tony Simpson. Picture: Sarah Motherwell
Local Government Minister Tony Simpson. Picture: Sarah Motherwell

In its submission to the Local Government Advisory Board (LGAB), the government proposed to reduce the number of metropolitan councils from 30 to 15, which includes the merger of the City of Belmont with the Shire of Kalamunda.

The LGAB is due to deliver its recommendations to the minister by mid-2014.

Mr Simpson may accept or reject the board’s recommendation for change but cannot amend them.

‘The advisory board would have to put up a very good case to say there could be a case for another (council),’ he said.

‘I’d like to stay with 15. I’m trying to reduce the amount of local government’s red tape.’

In their independent submissions to the LGAB, Belmont and Kalamunda complied with the government’s original boundary proposal to create a single entity from the two but by expanding their existing boundary to encompass the other, in what Belmont Mayor Phil Marks previously described as a ‘takeover’.

Mr Simpson said he intended to introduce changes to Parliament next year to remove the poll provisions in the Local Government Act, known as the Dadour amendment.

The Dadour amendment allows a council to veto a merger if at least 50 per cent of eligible voters participate in a poll and more than 50 per cent of participants vote against the proposed merger.

Mr Simpson said councils could hold a ‘straw poll’ any time to determine public opinion on mergers, like Kalamunda and the City of Vincent, but the Dadour poll could only be conducted once he had signed off on the LGAB’s recommendations.

‘In local government elections they had 800 candidates stand in the state of WA for council. The biggest ever of councillors want to be councillors but the lowest ever turnout in voting,’ he said.

‘It tells me the ratepayers are ready for change; they acknowledge something has got to change and cannot keep going as we are.’

The City of Belmont said it was looking into the implications of the State Government’s proposal and would provide comment at a later date.